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According to the dictionary “Vermonter” is defined as one born or living in Vermont. While the authors of the dictionary may stand by their definition, it definitely does not hold true in practice. If you ask anyone in Vermont what a “Vermonter” is the answer is plain and simple – someone who was born in Vermont. Not someone who lives in Vermont. No how, no way. There is a line drawn in the sand by native residents – there are Vermonters and then there are Flatlanders. Flatlanders is the term no doubt coined by Vermonters to refer to anyone who moved to Vermont from somewhere else (presumably flat – although I would guess that a transplanted Colorado resident would have issue with that). All of us transplants (and trust me in speaking with people here, most of us are transplants) know better than to try to hold yourself out as a true Vermonter. In fact, to go one step further, there is that line of thinking that maintains that in order to be a true Vermonter, you can’t even just be born here, you must actually have people here for generations – how many? Don’t know– but they are firm on that one. I recall how a Vermonter approached our neighbor who was pregnant and saw fit (Vermonters don’t hold back either) to inform her that her unborn child still wouldn’t be a Vermonter, since she would only be first generation born here.
Some would argue that these “Vermonters” are a tough bunch, that they are difficult people who seem a first glance unapproachable and unfriendly. Not true- “Vermonters” are kind, friendly and fiercely protective of their independence and the independence of their neighbors. Who would be the first to jump in to help a neighbor – no questions asked? A Vermonter, of course. Those qualities are what attracts most of us “flatlanders” to the state. Those qualities are the qualities we try so desperately to emulate as newly transplanted residents. And that, my friend, is why you can call me anything you like, as long as I get to live here with them.